How digital design and new technologies are reshaping the future of food and our relationship with what eat is being chewed over at RMIT University.
The second annual FoodCHI (Food-Computer Human Interaction) symposium brings together 19 international experts in food, science, arts, sociology, design, psychology, nutrition and marketing. Topics providing food for thought include printable foods, “eat-casting” and multi-sensory menus.
The two-day event is hosted by RMIT’s Design and Creative Practice Enabling Capability Platform, and will cover food cultures, food design, food play and food futures. The symposium will also include hands-on activities and performances.
Co-organiser and FoodCHI founder, Dr Jaz Hee-jeong Choi from Queensland University of Technology, said that while food has played an integral role for all life, technological, environmental and social disruptions were rapidly changing humans’ relationship with it.
“Digital and network technologies are transforming the ways we produce, prepare, and consume food,” Choi said. “Agricultural robots are one example. Equally, if not more interestingly, technologies are transforming, in diverse and significant ways, the socio-cultural aspects of food.
“For example, technology has enabled new practices like eating alone together or so called eat-casting where people broadcast themselves eating – think slurping soup and Skyping.
“There are also new ways of playing with design possibilities to create multi-sensory experiments like those made by star chef Heston Blumenthal and Oxford University’s Professor Charles Spence (who is our keynote speaker). Here food is something you taste and smell, but also hear and see and evokes memory.
“And food printing means that food is now even a material -- for example the 3D printed chocolate created at RMIT.
“So the big question is what does the intersection of food, design, and new technologies mean for our future? That’s exactly what we’re trying to explore at the second FoodCHI symposium with a group of researchers and practitioners from diverse fields.”
Co-organiser and the researcher behind the world’s first printable chocolate, RMIT’s Dr Rohit Ashok Khot, said technology like food printing had the potential to meet major food challenges.
"Food printing has the potential to contribute to food sustainability, personalised nutrition and the alleviation of world hunger by reducing food waste,” Khot said.
“Food printing also offers benefits in terms of customisation, convenience and novelty. One day, supermarkets may offer digital recipes that users can download and print at home using a food printer rather than selling prepared food products.
“Besides food printing, the emergence of virtual reality also brings new challenges and opportunities for new experiences.
“That’s why it is absolutely essential we better understand these changes and what they mean for food and our relationship with it.”
Story: James Giggacher